Almost 50 percent of women surveyed in the UK have played poker, but nearly a third are discouraged from playing because of men. That’s according to a new survey conducted by 888 Holdings which suggests that some women in poker are increasingly conscious of playing against men.
The online operator surveyed 2,000 women in the UK about their perceptions of — and experiences in — poker. After collating the responses, the results make for somber reading for those in the industry.
Women Enjoy Poker, but Only in Certain Settings
Of those asked, 44 percent said they’ve played poker at least once in their life. 81 percent of women that have played said they enjoyed it, but only 16 percent play at least once per week.
Some of the most interesting survey findings focused on the image of poker in the UK. According to the survey, 68 percent of women feel that poker is a male-dominated game.
In practice, the facts support this idea. In 2018, just 3.8 percent of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event field was made up of women. Last year, the number of females in the Main Event increased to 350/8,569 players (4.1 percent).
Although things are improving, parity is a long way from becoming a reality. In fact, if 888’s research is representative of all women, it suggests that we may never see an equal number of men and women at the table.
Delving further into the findings, 45 percent of women surveyed said they feel more comfortable playing poker with friends. Moreover, 47 percent agree that casinos are intimidating places from a female perspective.
These stats are coupled with the fact that 45 percent of women said they’ve felt intimidated at the poker table by men. This prompted 32 percent of those asked to say they’re less inclined to play because of their gender.
We know that women can thrive in poker. Vanessa Selbst, Liv Boeree, and Kristen Bicknell are just three femme fatales at the felt. However, among casual poker fans, the latest research suggests that the perceived barriers to entry are still high.
Perceptions Need to Change for Women in Poker
There are efforts to bring more women into the game among industry insiders. Advocates such as Lena Evans have created communities where women in poker can learn, interact, and inspire each other.
But, in the UK at least, casinos and poker rooms also have to change. Along with making games more appealing, venues need to take a hard line against potentially intimidating behavior.
When asked about the behaviors they find intimidating in male-dominated settings, 55 percent of women pointed to sexism. A further 51 percent noted verbal aggression as a source of intimidation, while loud behavior accounted for 42 percent of the negative impressions of pubs, casinos, and soccer stadiums.
The survey is by no means a reflection of all women in poker or, indeed, men. The vast majority of males would welcome women to the table, if asked.
Still, perception is often more powerful than reality. For more women to fall in love with poker, everyone needs to work on the game’s image.
There’s no doubt the industry has come a long way since the days of road gamblers and smoke-filled backrooms. But, at least in some people’s opinion, there’s a long way to go before poker is seen as a welcoming environment for everyone.